I have to blog quickly about a Wal-Mart commercial I just saw, in which the company is striving to create a family-friendly image. They mention that their employees can obtain health insurance for less than $1/day (heard in a voice-over as a woman kisses the top of her infant’s head), among other things.
My favorite comment was this (in a voice-over as a family is seen at a cookout on their patio): “It’s been said that when Wal-mart comes to town, it’s like getting a pay raise.” The reference they cite is: Global Insight, The Economic Impact of Wal-Mart, 11/2/05 – which apparently attributes savings of $2300/year for working families. I remember when Wal-Mart came to our part of town in Charlotte. Perhaps we would have saved $2300 if we had shopped there, but we were tempted not to by previous experiences with the horrendous lines, the Wal-Mart shopping carts that made their way all of the way across the parking lot to our supermarket in the same shopping center, and the hellacious traffic inching past the store.
A Wal-Mart store is set to open near my mother’s home in Irmo, SC. She said it basically sneaked in when no one was watching. Suddenly, it was announced that Wal-Mart was coming, and homeowners in her neighborhood, who chose to live in that part of Irmo because it is safe and quiet and not amidst chaos, will now have a Wal-Mart store, along with the traffic they wish to avoid. Of course, one could argue that if Wal-Mart is so unwanted, and they force their way in, then people can choose not to shop there, right? This has never made sense to me – why do so many people complain about Wal-Mart’s impact in their areas, but then continue to shop there? I loved the South Park episode – where Wall-Mart (a thinly veiled disguise with the extra “L” in the name) comes to South Park, and the residents voice hatred for it, but they all secretly shop there at night and “will not allow it to be destroyed.”
In this part of the country, residents have struggled to keep Wal-Mart out of their communities. For example, there is not a single Wal-Mart store anywhere within the city of Seattle – quite honestly, because the local residents will not allow one. They enjoy the unique flavor of the city, and I suppose they would rather spend the extra $2300/year than sacrifice the way of life they appreciate.